Omnira Institute Revives African American Grave-Sweeping Day


A participant places an offering of food on one of  the graves at Evergreen Cemetery at the AADOTA in 2017. Photo by Tracy Brown.

Omnira Institute is hosting its 3rd Annual African American Day of the Ancestors on Sunday Nov. 4, 2018, at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland.

In part a response to the renowned Dia de Los Muertos celebrated by Latinos, the AADOTA is also meant as a revival of a cultural observance among African Americans a few generations ago known as “Grave-Sweeping Day.”

Where Jim Crow prevailed, Black people had their own, separate graveyards. Often under the auspices of church leadership, Black folks took a day to attend the graves, cutting grass and sweeping away detritus. An all-day affair, they took a picnic lunch.
“Grave-Sweeping Day,”…

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